Public decency laws in Saudi Arabia ‘still on hold’: official

Saudi Cabinet members approved the regulations last month. (AN photo/ Essam Al-Ghalib)
Updated 28 May 2019

Public decency laws in Saudi Arabia ‘still on hold’: official

  • The implementation of the regulations is still being studied by the concerned authorities

JEDDAH: The public decency laws are yet to be enforced, a Ministry of Interior official said on Monday morning, according to SPA’s Twitter account.

Last month, Saudi Cabinet members approved the regulations that aim to uphold the values, principles and identity of Saudi Arabia, simplified in 10 rules on public decency, resulting in fines of up to SR5,000 ($1,333) when violated and doubled when committed again in the same year.

The implementation of the regulations is still being studied by the concerned authorities, the source added. A date will be set and announced for when the laws will be implemented after all procedures to prepare for this are complete.

Many Saudis took to social media to joke that this would mark the return of the religious police. Others, however, felt that the list of actions considered a breach of public decency was vague and hoped to get more information on the punishments and what would warrant a penalty.

Muna AbuSulayman, a Saudi adviser and media personality, told Arab News: “I think that creating a big awareness campaign to define what is and what is not appropriate is needed as some of the regulations are elastic and can depend on interpretation, especially in different regions.”

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Bassam Fatiny, a journalist and adviser, spoke about the fines on Ya Hala, a TV program that airs on Rotana Khalijia. He said: “I hope that punishments will match the severity of the offense when it comes to the public decency list. For instance, those who litter would be made by authorities to stand in place of a cleaner for a short while and experience that.”

“I believe that will have more of an impact than financial fines,” he said.

The rules are applicable to anyone who is in public, and everyone is expected to respect the values, customs, traditions and culture of the Kingdom.  Individuals are expected to adhere to the respectful dress code of the Kingdom, and avoid any offensive photographs or phrases that would disrupt public decency.

The list covers graffiti and demolition of public property by writing, painting or similar on the walls of public places, its components or assets, as well as tools of transportation unless authorized by the authorities.

It also covers verbal or physical acts of violence or abuse toward any person in public, and anything that damages or jeopardizes others’ safety.

The interior minister will coordinate with the chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), along with other concerned authorities, to appoint administrative regulators that will enforce the provisions of the law and implementation of penalties.

The minister and the SCTH will also classify the violations and determine corresponding fines that suit the committed offense and it will be issued by the minister himself.


$800bn plan to turn Riyadh into cultural hub for the Middle East

Updated 06 July 2020

$800bn plan to turn Riyadh into cultural hub for the Middle East

  • Saudi capital’s planning chief unveils ambitious strategy ahead of G20 urban development summit

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia is launching a SR3 trillion ($800 billion) plan to double the size of Riyadh in the next decade and transform it into an economic, social and cultural hub for the region.

The ambitious strategy for the capital city was unveiled by Fahd Al-Rasheed, president of the Royal Commission for the City of Riyadh, ahead of key meetings of the U20, the arm of the G20 leaders’ summit that deals with urban development and strategy.

“Riyadh is already a very important economic engine for the Kingdom, and although it’s already very successful, the plan now, under Vision 2030, is to actually take that way further, to double the population to 15 million people,” he told Arab News.

“We’ve already launched 18 megaprojects in the city, worth over SR1 trillion, over $250 billion, to both improve livability and deliver much higher economic growth so we can create jobs and double the population in 10 years. It’s a significant plan and the whole city is working to make sure this happens.”

About $250 billion in investment is expected from the private sector, with the same amount generated by increased economic activity from population growth, finance and banking, cultural and desert tourism, and leisure events.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • 18 megaprojects have already been launched worth over $250 billion.
  • 7 million trees planted in Riyadh in the next few years.
  • King Salman Park will be bigger than Hyde Park in London.

“We must also ensure the growth is managed properly, so there will be a focus on transport and logistics, including the Riyadh metro which will open at the beginning of next year. The aim is to increase productivity,” Al-Rasheed said.

The plan involves the creation of a “mega industrial zone” focusing on advanced technology such as renewables and automation, and biotechnology and aquaponics. Another key feature is sustainability, with energy conservation, the circular carbon economy with its emphasis on reducing emissions, and water management, all priorities.

“You will see 7 million trees planted in Riyadh in the next few years, and King Salman Park will be bigger than Hyde Park in London,” Al-Rasheed said.

The city also aims to be a Middle East artistic and cultural hub. An opera house is being considered, as well as public art shows with 1,000 works commissioned from around the world. “We have not seen anything like it since Renaissance Florence,” Al-Rasheed said.

The plans will be discussed this week during online meetings of the U20 linking Riyadh with Houston. The Texas oil capital is suffering a new spike in coronavirus cases and pandemics will be on the agenda. “We want to deal with this one, but also be ready for the next one,” Al-Rasheed said.